While the effects of war are readily apparent in northern Israel and southern Lebanon, life largely proceeds as usual in both Beirut and Tel Aviv, according to president of the International Red Cross, Dr. Jakob Kellenberger, who arrived in Israel for a visit Wednesday.
The beaches in Beirut are packed and businesses downtown are doing well, Kellenberger said, and compared the situation to the ongoing routine in Tel Aviv and central Israel, which he noted are disconnected from the fighting at this point.
Dr. Jakob Kellenberger in Nahariya (Photo: Reuters)
Speaking at a Magen David Adom ambulance service station in the northern town of Nahariya, Kellenberger said he came to Israel to see how MDA is handling the crisis situation. During the visit, the Red Cross official received a briefing regarding MDA's activities since the outbreak of hostilities. The visitor later asked to tour several bomb shelters in Nahariya.
Upon arrival at the northern town's eastern neighborhoods, Kellenberger spoke with residents and heard about the crisis and difficulties associated with the stay in bomb shelters.
It isn't easy to see elderly and children suffering on both sides as a result of the difficult fighting on the northern border, he said.
At one of the bomb shelters visited, the visitor and MDA representatives accompanying him encountered a mother of five who for two weeks has been trying to obtain financing to purchase medicine for her children, who suffer from a serious throat infection.
"You need to take care of us," the woman told Kellenberger, noting that the Red Cross is a humanitarian organization. A short time later, MDA's spokesman announced that a representative will be arriving at the site shortly to examine the children and provide them with medical care.
On his way out of the shelter, Kellenberger received a reminder as to the unpleasant realities, as a siren blared across town, followed by rockets landing not far from the delegation.
British-Israeli paranormalist Uri Geller also joined the tour and translated residents' complaints to Kellenberger. Dozens of people are living in crowded bomb shelters around the clock with a single bathroom and don't see daylight, he said, adding this is the image that must be etched into the consciousness of the visiting delegation.